Weight gain

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN

Q: Why do I weigh more since going gluten-free?

Answer


A side-effect of going on the gluten-free (GF) diet is sometimes weight gain. It could be due to several things:

  • You are absorbing more nutrients and calories due to the fact that your small intestine has healed - which is a good thing! But sometimes this requires an adjustment in intake to keep weight within a healthy range.
  • GF foods tend to be higher in fat, sugar, salt and calories. The food manufacturers love to add these to increase the palatability of GF foods, especially baked goods.
  • A serving size of a GF version of a food can have significantly more calories than the regular version. GF foods, especially baked goods, tend to be very dense and compact. So even if they look small they often have more calories per serving than its regular counterpart.
  • GF foods are generally higher in starch and lower in fiber. Starchier foods do not keep you full as long as high fiber foods.
  • The higher salt content in GF baked goods could make your body retain water, which will increase weight.

Here are some tips to stay healthy on a GF diet:

Decreasing sugar:

https://nationalceliac.org/celiac-disease-questions/how-can-i-find-gluten-free-items-with-less-sugar/

Decreasing salt:

https://nationalceliac.org/celiac-disease-questions/reducing-salt-and-sugar-in-gf-foods/

How to increase fiber in the GF diet:

Eat less processed GF foods and more GF whole grains. Just make sure they are labeled GF as many have had cross-contact with gluten-containing grains. Focus on nutritious GF whole grains such as:

    • Amaranth

    • Buckwheat

    • Millet

    • Sorghum

    • Teff

    • Quinoa

Also, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables! Fresh fruits and veggies are naturally GF and rich in fiber, aim for 10 servings a day. Nuts, seeds and legumes are also great sources of fiber. Note that legumes have a risk of cross-contact with gluten-containing grains, so always pick through them before soaking, even if they are labeled GF.

In addition, I recommend anyone that needs to adhere to a GF diet to see a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). An RDN can be a great resource on how to eat a healthy balanced diet that optimizes nutrition while staying gluten-free. You can search for a dietitian here: https://nationalceliac.org/resources/where-to-find-a-dietician/

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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